The Bud­get voices in our head

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Front Page - BREN­DAN O’CON­NOR

AND so we reach that time of year when the true civil war in this coun­try is re­vealed again, when we truly see what a di­vided coun­try we are.

It is a divi­sion that is deeply in­grained. In­deed, it is a civil war in our very psy­che, like a na­tional ver­sion of the Pixar movie In­side Out or in­deed the old car­toon strip The Num­skulls, in which var­i­ous lit­tle peo­ple in our heads vie for supremacy.

Mr Re­spon­si­ble has been in charge in our heads re­cently. He re­minds us that we got our­selves in ter­ri­ble trou­ble re­cently with reck­less­ness. And he tells us we should think about the long term and bal­anc­ing the books. Mr Re­spon­si­ble is the one who makes us tell poll­sters we don’t want tax cuts and that we want more money put into public ser­vices in­stead.

But at this time of year Mr Re­spon­si­ble gets a lot of lip from Miss Reck­less, who points out that no mat­ter how much more money we put into health and home­less­ness it’s still as bad as ever, and the public sec­tor only wastes our money any­way. And the coun­try is sup­posed to be in re­cov­ery, so why the hell isn’t there go­ing to be a give­away Bud­get? Miss Reck­less points out that we de­serve a few good­ies af­ter what we’ve all put up with in the past decade. And she sees that Paschal has a bil­lion in the Bud­get, and she wants MORE STUFF NOW.

Miss Pru­dence backs up Mr Re­spon­si­ble, point­ing out that we can’t af­ford to be com­pla­cent be­cause of Brexit. Mr De­nial jumps in at this point to say: “Brexit? Never go­ing to hap­pen. And even if it does it’ll be great for us.”

Mr Boomy bursts in at this point to say our gaffs are go­ing up in value by 50 quid a day and he for one wants to spend some of his new wealth, “so cough up Paschal and Leo. We’ve done our penance”.

Miss Guilty chips in timidly at this point to say we’ve been here before, and we know how all that ended. And she doesn’t feel com­fort­able with this resur­gence in ma­te­ri­al­ism and go­ing out eat­ing and drink­ing when there are fam­i­lies liv­ing in ho­tels.

Mr Swotty weighs in to sup­port her, say­ing the Fis­cal Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil and John FitzGer­ald and lots of other econ­o­mists are all agreed the econ­omy is in dan­ger of over­heat­ing if we keep stim­u­lat­ing it with give­away bud­gets.

Mr Pop­ulist in­ter­jects at this point to say: “If the econ­omy is in dan­ger of over­heat­ing, how come we aren’t all richer? What did the econ­o­mists and ex­perts ever get right before? Did any of them pre­dict the crash? Well? Did they?”

One of the loud­est voices in our head, Mr Likes-to-Moan, then urges every­one to calm down and says the main thing is that what­ever is in the Bud­get, we won’t be happy — and that’s the main thing.

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